It’s amazing how I could participate in an #SAchat and learn so much from people that I have not met or who I may have limited in person conversations with. I rarely questioned the true selves of those who I interacted with almost weekly because I thought that the chances of meeting them depended on my attendance at professional conferences.
Last week, my mind raced a bit. First it began with the #SAGrad conversation that occurred on Wednesday night. That was my first time participating in the chat but I dove right in. The topic of the night was “Dynamics of Professional Identity.” About mid-conversation, the topic shifted a bit towards authenticity and how it affects one’s professionalism. When I think about it, authenticity in one’s professional identity is important to one’s visibility. It is shown through the actions and the words of a professional but what’s most important is the delivery of those actions and words. It is the delivery that allows others to decipher you as a professional and how true you are to your identity. Christopher Conzen tweeted it best: “Authenticity doesn’t mean everyone gets all of me – just that what they do get is real.” That rang out to me because I did begin to think about the people whose tweets I read often:
How much of themselves are they really displaying on social media?
- As much as they feel like displaying. They may want to be an open book or they may just want to show important pages of themselves.
How am I being perceived because of my social media presence?
- If I am showing who I am through my tweets and my statuses, the perception is up to those who are viewing. I also have to remember to be self aware.
Can I be authentic and personal at the same time?
- Of course, but do I have to share my personal life with others? It’s my choice. That doesn’t make me more or less authentic.
What authenticity reminds us as professionals and as people is that what you see isn’t always what you get but what you get is enough. Authenticity does not mean comfort, however comfort can come from authentic interactions.
This leads me to my response to attending to the #SAChat Face to Face event.
First of all, it was amazing! I loved every minute of it. Everyone that I met was so engaging and insightful. It was pleasing to learn that the people that I know from social media outlets are as pleasant to talk with in real life. I walked out of the event in the end feeling like there were no surprises about the people I met except that they were great examples of the people who work in the field of student affairs.
It also showed me that as student affairs professional and graduate students, most, if not all, believe in being our authentic selves and we show that in person or through 140 characters or less.
Authenticity affects relationships that are or in the process of becoming meaningful. We interact with students in our careers and encourage them to learn more about themselves as they develop in their undergraduate career. With that same enthusiasm and drive that we have for students, we also should encourage ourselves to be always authentic.
I leave you with a few questions –
How do you use social media to show your authentic self?
What does it mean to be authentic as a student affairs grad/professional?